The Unbearable Weight of a Nic Cage Marathon

The Unbearable Weight of a Nic Cage Marathon Or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love Saint Nic

Having slipped into a coma during the benign Grand Isle a while back, I’ve had my trepidations over contemporary Nicolas Cage films. Primal was OK, I suppose, but mostly I put much of what he does in the “Bruce Willis cashes in on name” category. If that sounds harsh, particularly given Brucey’s sad but understandable reason for taking any paycheque he can while he’s still able, sorry; but there’s definitely a quantity over quality concern with Cage as with Willis.

What Nic Cage does seem to have done is choose genre films en masse and mostly commit to them, landing some unexpected successes. Due to this, and its being prominently praised, I thought I’d try The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, which still only landed at a 50/50 potential in my eyes. My thoughts on that film are first up in what turned into a Nicolas Cage marathon, focussing on films I hadn't seen but was keen to.

You won’t be surprised to hear I didn’t manage all of these in one day, but I did dedicate my time to Saint Nic for a few days.



Rated 15

Playing “himself” Nicolas Cage does the Matt le Blanc in Episodes (well worth a watch) trick, a self deprecating but maybe mythical “I’m actually a nice guy in real life” act. Cage might well be a nice guy- I’d like to think that he is. Le Blanc I honestly believe is a good guy, but then that’s mainly his aversion to plastic surgery and dieting.

Cage and the film’s villain Pedro Pascal have great chemistry and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’s nous, humour, is in its overtness, its lack of subtlety. Nic is caught up in a Taken-esq caper where rather than a marauding psychopath with no idea what law is, or a secret agent he’s a double agent, as himself! Shock horror, he turns out to get on with the nefarious gun/drug runner Javi (Pascal).

It’s a caper with some flat out stupid but hilarious scenes, as “Nic” made me laugh a lot. The film comes nicely balanced and with a dash of a dig at both its star and the film industry. You don’t need to be a cinephile to indulge in Massive Talent’s skill in film references..

I don’t remember seeing Cage pitch a comedy performance this pure and silly since Kick Ass over a decade ago. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’s plot is dumber than a stump, but a good looking stump being kicked by a team who know what they’re doing. A thoroughly enjoyable 8/10.

This unexpectedly high score, and the proliferation of his recent films available on the cheap or for free, inspired a Sunday afternoon marathon. My rule was I had to have not seen the film before, which precludes a lot of good, let’s face it, because Nicolas Cage is fucking great, when he’s great.

The USS Indianapolis was the one I was both most excited and yet had the least hope for. In chronological order of my viewing (and therefore wine consumption). I wanted to watch his The Wicker Man remake, but I recently watched the original and it’s so overhyped I didn’t have the energy to sit through a similar but even worse version of the same film.

Action/Mystery/Sci Fi

Rated 15

Knowing is about a man who can see the future, and not in a good way like Arsenal wins or super fun sexy times, but horrible things like planes crashing and disasters and Donald Trump becoming president. I asked myself, isn’t there another film like this? With Dustin Hoffmann? CHECKS… Oh no I’m thinking of Hero. The Trump thing was almost exactly the plot of David Cronenberg’s excellent The Dead Zone.

Knowing involves aeroplanes hitting terra-firma in a less than safe, way- but with CGI fire. Ugh, CGI fire. A massive peeve of mine, fake fire. So spottable and distracting. The plot involves more mystery and Cage seeing stuff and yet nobody believes him!

They should mix this up with the Sixth Sense and have Cage with an existential crisis as he and a magical kid solve mysteries. Make that movie Hollywood. For a multiple-disaster movie, Knowing is pretty dull, it’s a weird, wannabe blockbuster with no punch (and shit fire) I didn’t buy into. 4/10

After two films Nic Cage Marathon is averaging 6/10. Not a bad start considering what I expected. On to a film I was excited for when it came out, but for some reason never got around to,

Despite this picture, he is a Police Office... or just a Fritzl fanatic World Trade Center (2006) Drama/History/Thriller

Rated 12A

A true story of something that happened in New York in 2001 on September 11th which I reckon you know about unless you were born to Josepf Fritzl. Also trapped underground, Cage and Michael Pena are NYPD officers pinned beneath the World Trade Center after its collapse.

I had a Facebook group I set up after the 7/7 attacks in London called Terrorists are Cunts and eventually Facebook took it down and I got a warning for “fuelling hate speech” and targeting a specific group of people. Ironic on so many levels.

Has Cage had his hair done? No judgement, when I can afford it I’m getting a Turkish reallocation job. I don’t have more hair, I’ve just moved what hair I do have to a different postcode apparently; not a desirable postcode either. Nostrils and eyebrows don’t need more hair.

Why I’ve never seen World Trade Centre I don’t know. Given it has a tremendous Director (Oliver Stone), a great cast and I watched it live on TV, which might be the real life event that sticks in my memory most vividly forever, it should have been something I was all over. But hey, here we are now.

World Trade Centre could be distasteful but it’s actually pretty moving- by the book but well made; focussing on two trapped police officers trapped in the awful rubble. Given the theme it is also clearly boasting a relatively huge budget. Worth your time, but not a Cage classic. 6/10


Nic Cage

Rated 15

Perhaps Nic’s most lauded latest, Pig is grime, mud, mess and dirt. It’s well shot and Director WHO is slated to do A Quiet Place Part III/ prequel. The film feels a perfect audition for that series to be honest.

Cage is a shaggy haired, bearded loner who apparently never uses his words and neither do many other characters. He has a truffle pig which he loves like I love bacon. I have a confession to make, though. I messed up watching Pig; I didn’t watch all of it. I’m not perfect and I don’t expect you to be either. I sort of liked what I’d seen but I didn’t see enough to score Pig. It definitely carried itself with a little more gravitas than a lot of Cage’s recent work.

No score, and I’m sorry for that, but hey at least Pig still remains a “mystery”.

Not Nic Cage
And so, the big one…

Rated 15

Based on a true story about a ship, can’t remember what name, which was sunk during WW2 leaving hundreds of water soldiers floating in shark infested waters. I love sharks, but I’m guessing the lazy film makers portray them as beastly sea monsters who’ll murder innocent people unlucky enough to be in water humans own, rather than the cuddly fishies nibbling at easy meals bobbing around on their dinner plate sharks are; like always. Ugh.

I immediately had to remind myself that this is a B-Movie. Men of Courage’s script, acting and action were offputting from the off.. Some awful CGI at the start (and mostly throughout) had me almost turn the film off. I’d actually spent money on this though, and being the spendthrift I am, I decided to keep watching. That and the sharks.

Do the actors know they’re in something this bad, you think? It's hokie and USS Indianapolis reminded me of Fortress which was not a favourite of mine, put politely, and also featured CGI made by children. Children on a budget.

There's two reasons I'm not a proper film reviewer. Nobody pays me and I try not to be one. Proper critics would have to sit through shit just so they can say they saw it to the end. Thus their opinion is beyond approach, my amateur status was tested again and again by USSMoC (you might have noticed I can’t decide what to call it). I don't have to do that. I can turn something off if I want and still tell you it shit because I'm not a proper film reviewer.

Yes, the start of USS2016, is bad, but once it gets in the water, I was enjoying myself more, no prizes for guessing why. The film also provides what might be the best composite image ever- Nic Cage underwater WITH A SHARK.

Shark Cage!
The factual element of the film is moderately interesting and as with any big event telling (World Trade Center) the big picture is illuminated by picking or making a story within it. USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage kept my attention with the sharks and the shifting style and focus from naval action to survival story, but it gets really cheesy again towards the end. Cute fishies elevated an almost no score to a 5/10.

Bedsit Them?

In conclusion, I know people find Nicolas Cage hard work or odd, but I like a lot of what he does, even though a lot of it is mad or the same thing, it doesn't feel like he's cashing out ever. It feels like he's just choosing things which sound interesting to him. There are so many more films I wanted to watch as part of my Nicholas Cage dive, but let's be honest, five is enough for now.

Pretty much, whatever genre tickles your pickle, Cage will have done it and no doubt at least one of his efforts will be enjoyable and/or feature sharks.


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